Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Advantage John McCain

By clinching the Republican nomination in early March John McCain surprised the pundits who widely believed that the Democrats would settle on their nominee long before the Republicans did. This change of dynamic is unexpectedly good news for McCain and the Republicans in a time when they could use some good news. The uncertainty and the increasingly negative campaigning in the Democratic field gives the Republicans a chance to level the playing field in this favorable year for the Democrats.

Some influential strategists like Karl Rove have argued that McCain risks fading from the front pages and that is not a good thing for a Presidential nominee. However getting some breathing room to plan for the future can only benefit McCain. The voters are likely to suffer from Obama/Clinton fatigue if the Democratic race drags on for months. This would make McCain the fresh new thing come November. It is also possible that the Democrats would exhaust some of their donors as well as enthusiasm among the voters while McCain can get new donors and build support by selling his message to the voters.

The other important factor is fatigue. No matter who the candidate is, the Democratic candidate's campaign is likely to be tired from the intense primary season, while McCain and his camp has a chance to relax and enjoy the show. It also gives them a chance to know what works against Obama/Clinton without having to work for it. They also have enough time to research the weaknesses of the Democratic candidates for the general campaign.
More importantly this provides the McCain camp with a wonderful opportunity to organize, fund raise, sharpen his message and introduce their candidate to the voters.

John McCain was able to clinch the nomination in a relatively weak Republican field with his current organization. However the disorganized McCain camp would be easy prey for the Democrats especially since they would hit the ground running in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania where they have intensively campaigned. John McCain needs to organize his campaign structure to match that of George Bush in 2004. The Bush camp followed the basic principles like Stick to message discipline, avoid falling prey to common mistakes and have a tight leak proof organization.

McCain should also remember that a healthy distrust of the press never hurt anyone. He has a habit of getting into arguments with the press as well as answer every question they have for him. This has made the press like him but there will always be some reporters who will use his candor against him. McCain needs to be aware of that and keep the press at arm's length.

Fund Raising:
The biggest advantage that McCain has from the Democratic infighting is money. He is free to raise money from traditional Republican donors as well as attract small online donors. The Democrats would have easily blown millions of dollars attacking each other before the summer ends while McCain has a great chance to increase his bank balance to match the Democrats. This is also the biggest use he has for President Bush. Bush may be unpopular but his fundraising abilities are strong as ever. McCain should take full advantage of this.

Sharpen his message:
John McCain made a mistake by being honest and admitting he does not have a lot of knowledge about economic concepts. He needs to makeup for that blunder and sharpen his domestic and economic message. He has the foreign policy aspect covered but the economic, social and health care messages need to be sharpened and put forth. He should use this time to hire the best economic minds to run that side of his campaign. He will need to have effective answers on the current housing crisis, the social security and medicare fears, the looming recession and rising oil prices.

On a lighter but equally important note, the McCain camp should start using new 'on the campaign trail' stories, jokes and anecdotes. We have heard his jokes about the bridge to nowhere, Clinton's Woodstock museum bill and bear DNA research and they were funny the first 10 times but now he needs new material.

John McCain can use this time to organize his ground game in swing states and open campaign offices in those states. His camp should survey the voters in these states and address their concerns effectively. McCain also has a good chance of winning over Hispanics and his camp should dedicate itself to that cause. He also has ample time to pick his staff and more importantly a running mate that would satisfy the Republican base.

John McCain has a compelling story to tell about his life and career and its a shame most Americans only know a part of it. His courage, compassion and perseverance are inspirational. Barack Obama's inspirational speeches become pale when his words are compared to McCain's actions. McCain should introduce himself to the American people and his campaign should tell his story every chance they get.
In the time the Democrats are busy fighting each other, McCain runs a risk of being yesterday's news. He can reverse that by making TV and radio appearances every chance he gets. He should use this time to be everywhere from Leno to Jon Stewart, from daytime talk shows to Hispanic TV shows.

Winning the Base:
This is also a great opportunity for McCain to win over conservatives. He should make appearances on conservative talk radio as well as evangelical churches. He needs to do all he can to assure conservatives about Supreme Court judges, immigration and tax cuts. However McCain needs to be careful so as to not get carried away with this pandering. He should do it relatively below the radar and not win over conservatives at the expense of independents and moderates. It is a fine line but McCain can manage it.

Moreover a few conservatives being against him will not hurt him as much as one would think. Rush Limbaugh said a few weeks ago that if he wanted to destroy McCain's chances he (Limbaugh) would enthusiastically endorse him and that would drive away the moderates and independents. Thus if McCain does not have every conservative on board, he is at a net advantage.

The Democrats have given John McCain and the Republicans a great opening - question is can he take advantage of it?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Clinton's VP Smokescreen

In a recent campaign event Bill Clinton told reporters that Hillary was 'very open to the idea' of Barack Obama as her running mate. This followed Hillary's statements to the news media that a joint ticket "may be where this is headed".

This is may sound like good news to Democrats who want this so called 'dream ticket' and to those who are worried about party unity. Clinton's offer suggests that she does not want the race to get irreparably negative. However the strategy behind this recent VP buzz is more tactical than altruistic.

Why Obama is not interested:
It is quite uncommon to see the front runner being offered the post of VP by the trailing candidate. Even though Sen. Obama is ahead by all measures in the race so far, Clinton's offer undercuts Obama's achievements and gives the illusion that she is ahead. It also puts him in an awkward spot where he either has to show some warmth to the idea or make a counter offer of his own to Hillary.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that Obama was trailing Clinton. Even in this scenario Obama cannot accept the offer because it would fly in the face of his entire platform. He has gotten this far by promising change and vowing not to allow the same old people to run Washington. By accepting the offer he would not only support the same old people, he would in fact facilitate the process as VP. Obama would also ruin his chances of running again in 2012 or 2016 because his message of change would be exposed as hypocritical.

Why Obama cannot counter the offer:
With Hillary as his running mate Obama would still be seen as facilitating giving power to the same old faces in Washington. He would also be worried about Hillary trying to undermine his authority. Denials aside, Obama will require on the job training if he becomes President. One can safely assume that he will not want the Clintons to be his trainers.

A President Obama would also constantly be wary of Bill and Hillary trying to second guess him. It would be an ugly power struggle where a seasoned former President and First Lady outshine and out maneuver the rookie President. Obama cannot afford to risk an undercurrent of hostility and political cunning in his running mate(s).

The Clinton camp has already figured out this dynamic and is thriving on it. They know Obama is cold to either idea and they have put him in a tough spot. Hillary comes across as the uniter extending an olive branch to her opponent while he comes across as the one willing to risk a divided party. Hillary would also largely benefit if Obama did accept her offer since she does not share the above dilemmas. The Obama camp is on the defensive against the retooled Clinton machine.

The Clintons have accepted their role as the insurgent candidate and have adapted to it brilliantly. They are at their best when fighting in the trenches and it will be interesting to see how Obama responds from his 'above the fray' pedestal.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Satire: The Great Obama Sale

Welcome Voters!

It is the great Obama Sale! You are guaranteed to find something for everyone. We believe in pleasing everyone so come on in!!


Against NAFTA?
Then you will be happy to know that our candidate has all intentions to end NAFTA if it isn't renegotiated to get you your job back!
If you are not in a state like Ohio then rest assured! We're sure that by now you've heard of our (wink-wink) conversation with the Canadians. Nafta is not going anywhere - so relax!

Against Telecom immunity and terrorist surveillance?
Our candidate has said that they shouldn't be given immunity and we need to end warrentless wiretaps. So we will roll back the Bush tactics.
Worried we won't monitor terror communications?
Well our candidate did not show up to vote for the FISA bill so take it easy; we are not really against the FISA bill either! (wink-wink).

Want our troops out?
Our candidate showed amazing judgment by giving a speech in Chicago against the war! He has promised that troops will begin pulling out almost as soon as he takes office. So our troops are coming home and who cares what happens in Iraq after that?
Worried Iraq will fall into chaos or that al Qaeda will take over?
Fear not! We will send our troops back into Iraq if that happens. And who gives a damn that al Qaeda is already there?
To let you in on a secret - we aren't really going to withdraw too much. But we hope you understand that we have to say that to get elected! And we can always hope al Qaeda and the Shiite militants just go away.

Want an end to partisanship?
Our candidate's whole platform is based on that. He will end the bickering and make everyone come together. Believe us - it's a promise he intends to keep.
Part of the liberal Democratic base?
We are on your side! Our candidate isn't really going to work with Republicans on contentious issues. His idea of bipartisanship is making everyone go along with his view. And think about it, would you still support him if he had actually worked with Republicans on controversial issues?

Just look at John McCain - his party's base hates him because he worked with Democrats. Our candidate has the support of every sub group of the Democratic Party - does that happen with someone who is willing to break with his party on some issues? (wink-wink).

No Health Insurance?
Obama to the rescue! We will provide everyone a government run health care plan. Yes the same government that can't even handle toll booths efficiently will be responsible for your healthcare needs! We believe it is the best way.
There is a $4000 tax credit and low interest student loans for you if you vote for our candidate.
Senior Citizen?
There are additional medicare and prescription drug benefits for you if you vote for us.
Middle class family?
Don't worry, your taxes are not going up. We will only raise the taxes of your employers and other rich folk. How dare they get rich?!

So shoppers, in this leap year we ask you to make a leap of faith and support our great candidate.
Official Obama Cult Members get 15% more of their wishes fulfilled!!


  • We urge you to ignore our candidate's judgment of entering into a transaction with indicted political fixer Tony Rezko.
  • The Canadian memo was not supposed to leak out.
  • We do not take into consideration that threatening to end NAFTA unless its renegotiated to our liking will set a dangerous precedent where Canada and Mexico can threat to opt out unless the agreement is negotiated to their liking.
  • We also do not take into account that illegal immigration will increase ten fold and Mexico's economy might collapse if we withdraw from NAFTA.
  • We know there is no real evidence of bipartisanship, but when he is the President, Obama will work with everyone. You will just have to take our word for it.
  • We do not take into account the logistical and military nightmare it will be to take American troops out of Iraq and put them back in on short notice when Al Qaeda resurges.
  • We do not believe your small business employer will lay you off if his/her taxes go up. Economics is just not our cup of tea.
  • We have no real plan to pay for all our big programs for students, veterans, seniors, universal healthcare, etc. But with a 'Yes We Can' attitude we just might figure out a way.
  • Our promises are not necessarily binding and we reserve the right to 'change' our minds on them as we see fit politically.